A masked person bashed the cameras, windshield, windows, and other sensors of a Cruise robotaxi with a hammer Sunday night in downtown San Francisco, according to a video of the incident and the San Francisco police department.
“Call 911, call 911,” a woman can be heard saying in a video shot from above the corner of Buchanan and Haight streets in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood Sunday night. The person, wearing all black, a hoodie, and ski mask, starts by hitting some of the sensors on the roof of the car before moving to the windshield and driver’s side-window. The front of the car also appears to be vandalized with spray paint in the video. The video was originally posted on Twitter by a user called BrokeAssStuart.
“On September 10, 2023 at approximately 10:59pm, San Francisco Police Officers assigned to Northern Station responded to the 300 block of Buchanan on a report of a vehicle which was vandalized at that location,” a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department told 404 Media.
“When officers arrived on scene, they located an autonomous vehicle in the intersection, which had been vandalized,” the spokesperson added. “Officers spoke with a witness, who said that they heard a scream and looked out their window to see the suspect standing in front of the autonomous vehicle. The suspect then began vandalizing the vehicle. The suspect fled the scene prior to officers arriving on scene.”
The spokesperson added that the suspect is still at large and that it is an “active and open investigation.”
404 Media reached the woman who took the video, who confirmed she filmed it then said: “It was really crazy.” She did not respond to additional questions.
A Cruise spokesperson told 404 Media that no one was in the car when it was vandalized and added that the car was indeed damaged: "We are deeply troubled by the behavior displayed by the individual. While there was no one in the vehicle at the time, our priority is to operate safely under all conditions. We have reported the incident to law enforcement and hope they are able to identify those responsible and hold them accountable.”
Robotaxis have been operating with mixed success in San Francisco for the last few years. The vehicles, operated by Cruise and Waymo, have had a penchant for getting stuck in specific areas and driving erratically, for example. People also regularly have sex in them. Last month, Cruise agreed to slash its San Francisco fleet in half effective “immediately” after two of its vehicles were involved in crashes, one with a fire truck.
As robo taxis become more common we are likely to see more of this human-on-robot crime. Food delivery robots and bikeshare bikes, for example, are often vandalized and destroyed, while activists have also been disabling them by simply putting traffic cones on the hoods of the cars.
This post has been updated with comment from Cruise.